Fires In the West

The fires in Montana this year are getting more than a perfunctory glance from me. We just returned from the area ten days ago. While there, reports of fires were hitting 20 and more a day. Many were small enough to be put out in hours. One, smoke billowing up over the Pioneer Range to the east of Big Hole Valley, had us chewing over escape routes should ash start to fall.

The Meriwether fire northwest of Helena is now up to 11,000 acres and Glacier Park where we spent several hot hiking days is under tense alert.

In Montana, the Meriwether fire, burning 37 miles northwest of Helena, ballooned to 11,000 acres by Sunday night and was 10 percent contained. The fire earlier had prompted the evacuation of about 90 homes from American Bar, Eldorado Heights and Hauser Dam; residents of the Eldorado subdivision have since been allowed back. No homes have been reported damaged since the fire began July 21. The fire has forced the closure of the Gates of the Mountains Wilderness.

Several other fire were burning in Montana, including the Skyland blaze near Glacier National Park which forced the evacuation of employees and guests at the Summit Station Lodge and the on-and-off again closure of U.S. 2. The fire, which started July 23, has grown to more than 5,000 acres and was just 2 percent contained. Some 700 residents in Heart Butte, about 18 miles from the fire, were told to be prepared to evacuate.

Fires in the West

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